Pruning the Thorn Child
for Jane and Katie
Handle everything with open hands,
Spread your fingers apart
the thorns will rest between them.
What you cut cannot be undone
So train your eyes to feel.
Pull quietly, without fuss, eyes averted;
the Osage is easily embarrassed.
……….Leave the bird’s nest there:
……….wonder and beauty and surprise
……….are required in every thorn child.
……….This is why we plant them.
Cut everything that crosses,
Everything you can reach.
What you can’t reach, commend to God.
Those branches, even tangled,
will reach the sky anyway
stretching to the light,
thorns and all,
Jenny Jordan grew up in Liberia, fleeing the approaching civil war with her family in 1990. She now lives in Wisconsin with her husband and teen daughter. She has a formal degree in architecture and an informal one in parenting an unusual child. She blogs at anewelephant.wordpress.com
the molecules of glass match the frequencies of light
which is why we have windows and not dense dim
rectangles of other matter to look through darkly
and how we can see while still indoors the grass and green
leaves of gardens, when we go outside we see the same
but unframed larger wider views of plane trailed skies
and when our eyes, in love with light, become windows
we also are framers of all clear sight, feeling that
lightness larger even than dimension
brimming over from its darkness into form
light-hearted then we no longer take ourselves too
seriously seeing that light always makes us lighter.
Diana Durham is the author of three poetry collections: Sea of Glass (Diamond Press); To the End of the Night (Northwoods Press) Between Two Worlds (Chrysalis Poetry); the nonfiction The Return of King Arthur (Tarcher/Penguin); a debut novel
Barn Owl Over the Levels
I saw her once, flying towards me.
Her pale, heart-shaped face
wearing my dark eyes.
Barn owl stalks the liminal edge
water and light deepening to violet;
her talons will take heartbeats
in white silence; as much as she needs
from the visible dark that swells around
like the sea. Some nights, the levels
are thick with saltflecks of stars
and she is the moon’s flying woman,
cloaking light over her deadly wings.
I would be luminous then, walking
beside her on stilts, entering the marsh
through the night gate above the water,
trailing my sharp net, certain to find you.
© Rose Flint
Rose Flint has worked as a creative writing tutor and was for 10 years Writer in Residence at Salisbury District Hospital, working in all areas of healthcare. She has five collections, including A Prism for the Sun (Oversteps). Awards include the Cardiff Poetry Prize and the Petra Kenney International Prize.
The Existence of Things Inside Wall Spaces
……..What exists in the gap between bricks? The gap where the mortar has crumbled away as aggregates of time. I have to know. I have to know, like the Canadian geese have to know the way back from Ireland in the
spring. I have to look.
……..I’m looking. Not into the interior of a house, but into a small hole. Inside the hole is a miniature spinning wheel, not more than an inch big, and beside it, a pair of silk mittens, like mocha-colored oven gloves. They seem to have a ferrous tinge from the orange brick. As my eyes scour the space, I see mocha-colored silk threads zigzagging their way from upper to lower facets of brick.
……..Where I’m looking, a chunk of plaster is missing from the wall, as if someone spent a good deal of time carefully peeling it away from the brick. I’m guessing it was a bored child. A stuffy child, probably a spoiled kid with a pudgy face, and an ill demeanor.
……..Now, I too am peeling the plaster. The white flakes coming away in my hand are not more than half a centimeter thick and are leaving a powdery white residue on my palm and under my nails. Beneath, the brick is tangerine orange.
……..And what is this I see? A psychedelic greenish-blue blob about two inches long. I extend my finger to investigate.
……..It moves! A caterpillar: plump and feisty, living under the plaster. How on earth did such a juicy fellow fit under that packed space?
……..The caterpillar makes its way along the crease of the brick towards the gap. Oh no. No you don’t! No quick escape for you when I’m in such an inquisitive mood!
……..The thing wriggles and, afraid it might drop, I encourage it onto my hand. My, oh my, what sticky legs it has; I needn’t have worried in the first place.
……..Did this little beastie spin the silk threads? This squishy critter knitting tiny oven gloves at the minute spinning wheel, and who knows what other things that fill the space between bricks? Oh, the things Canadian geese would only know if they looked below on their journey!
……..I’m glad I wasn’t inclined to transcend that gap. How easy it could have been to not look inside. When you’re en-route from A to B, a straight line is the quickest way. Not to mention the least complicated. I’d like to say it was coincidence, but I’m not so sure. If you bother to look inside a world, there’s another smaller world
tucked inside it.
……..Blue-green caterpillars only happen on a crescent moon. When the sky is a backwash of clouds swept away by a tide of silken thread. Sometimes, if you focus too much on the path to the moon, you might miss all the heavenly glory.
is a writer and poet. Her short stories have appeared in Weirdyear, Pure Slush, Linguistic Erosion, Pound of Flash, Mad Swirl, The Neglected Ratio, Ariadne’s Thread, Absinthe Literary Review, Sarasvati, The Crazy Oik, Stanley the Whale, The Pygmy Giant, Wufniks, Carillon
and her flash story, ‘Twenty Questions’, was selected for the ‘Best of the Web’ Storm Cycle Anthology 2015 from Kind of a Hurricane Press. Recently, her novella, Til Death do us Boneapart
, was published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine. Leilanie is also the Editor in Chief of Bindweed
Magazine. She currently lives in Belfast with her writer and poet husband, Joseph Robert. Her blog is at: https://leilaniestewart.wordpress.com
Garnet gleam and well-deep blue–
thorn-kissed blood on each thick pane,
a story leaded and stained.
The feathered gold frescoes are burden;
our art betrays.
Would you sit here in silence and do nothing
but note the design? I have
glimpsed arches contracting
as though choreographed, supine
movements centuries old and timed.
This is the house that God built–
a layer cake of death and resurrection:
crypt …….nave……. tower,
rooms large enough to hold sister sin,
such a beautiful bride. Take her satin train,
and all her pretty maids, amethyst organza-dripping
down the aisle past perfectly straight
pew soldiers. And then you’ll kneel,
and open your mouth to God,
pray in your black orchid tongue.
Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Pretty Owl, The Tishman Review, The Inflectionist Review, Midwestern Gothic, Sinister Wisdom, and elsewhere. She has work forthcoming in Up the Staircase, the CDC Poetry Project, Parentheses, and Sliver of Stone. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at jen-rouse.com and on Twitter @jrouse.
A Broken Stone
…..The stone has several walls, at least eight or nine depending on how you count certain angled declivities. To further confuse matters, some are dark and some are light, as if a shell or veneer of a rusty tan color has been shucked or shocked from the stone’s exterior to reveal a thoroughgoing darkness.
…..On closer examination it’s evident that the stone’s interior gloom isn’t unrelieved. Tiny glittering particles like sawdust or brown snow swirl the night sky of the stone. At this point the eye asks what exactly it’s seeing: primordial organisms swimming in the first dark ocean? intimations of galaxies beyond counting in the farthest range of our best telescopes?
…..Ask instead which vision best suits the human scale. The answer: something in-between, light flecks lying upon the face of the darkness as grass seed lies scattered on black soil. As if some greenness is waiting to grow there.
…..Held between the thumb and fingers, the stone undergoes a miraculous transformation, as though a premonition of an entirely different existence it may know after being broken down, the ultimate end of all stone, reduced to the life-giving grains of mineral nourishment a grass-root can absorb.
…..To those who despair of the hardness of certain hearts and fates in the present moment, I say: One day even this stone will become a nurturer of grass.
Thomas R. Smith lives in Wisconsin, USA, and have seven published collections so far, and was included in DIAMOND CUTTERS, edited by Jay Ramsay and Andrew Harvey. He has also edited several books, most recently AIRMAIL, the correspondence of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer, published in the UK by Bloodaxe. WINDY DAY AT KABEKONA: NEW AND SELECTED PROSE POEMS is forthcoming in the Autumn.
angel and sage
“because I’m crushed
in this!” she said. “I
have to get out.”
“but I’m so happy,” he
said. “how can
this be?” The angel
of om heard, and with
a brush of only one
of his uncountable
wings opened them
skulls fell like
berlin walls, minds
and feelings rushed
she was his joy and
both infinite both
all. thank god
the angel’d left him
the soles of his
keds or he would
to gehena and
would have never left
the top of the
the sage of samsara
and pushed them
apart like reddening
seas; their separateness
had to kill me”
she caught her
“and then who would
have been my
teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. Wayne-Daniel is a Peace Chaplain, an interfaith clergy person, and a member of B’nai Or of Boston. He has published widely in both poetry and prose, and is the co-founding editor of Soul-Lit
, an online journal of spiritual poetry. His latest chapbook is Christine Day, Love Poems
. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine.
Not Finally Separate
The plants and grasses don’t seem to care
if I gaze upon them or pass indifferently by,
too hurried to pause long enough to see
the slender shadows they cast in their
swaying forms; neither do the beetles
who scratch about in the dirt and scuttle
across the worn rocks, bathing their hard-
shelled selves in the warm mid-day sun.
With them we wander as best we can
beneath shadows of drifting clouds, and
it could be though while their innocence
is deeper than ours it’s not finally separate.
Perhaps they’re gathered by dreams as
singular as those that shape us, too,
shifting like the winds at play with
the shining flock of clouds above.
Mark S. Burrows is a theologian, poet, and translator. A longtime resident of New England, he currently teaches religion and literature at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum (Germany). His recent publications include Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart. Meditations for the Restless Soul, with Jon M. Sweeney (2017); a new book of his poems, The Chance of Home, will be published in March, 2018. http://www.msburrows.com
You have tampered with my marrow again
Sealed me in the vial of your shadow
Labeled me: rare specimen
Dividing me down to my decimals
I am so far away from the point
I am so far away from the answer
Because I don’t even know what to ask
A puppet flaunting his strings like suspenders
A miracle hidden as a mistake
A wraith of me follows my phantom
My phantom follows my shadow
My shadow is nowhere to be found
Somewhere in an apple orchard at dusk
Sweet and secret as knowledge untasted
I face away, I want to be faceless
Faithful that I will be faithless when I fade away
John Maurer is a 23-year-old writer who writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, things that aren’t boring to read, hopefully. He has been previously published at: Claudius Speaks, Quail Bell, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, The Scarlet Leaf Review, and The Foliate Oak. @JohnPMaurer